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Veriflow aims to prevent network outages

This week, networking bloggers discuss a new way to eliminate network outages, OpenStack networking and whether SDN is novel or just natural.

Drew Conry-Murray, blogging with Packet Pushers, explored networking startup Veriflow Systems' approach to preventing network outages. Veriflow, based in Oakland, Calif., claims to stop network outages by relying on formal verification through algorithms to mathematically eliminate human errors. Veriflow said it has borrowed the method from the aerospace industry.

Veriflow's products to eliminate network outages include a data plane collector, policy explorer UI and verification engine. Data is collected from content-addressed memory and access control lists; from switches, load balancers, routers and firewalls; and channeled to the verification engine, where it is generated in a real-time view in the console.

Conry-Murray said Veriflow distinguishes between how a policy is written and how it actually runs on a network, and it can verify configurations within minutes when used in human configuration. (Within software-defined networking environments, verification takes place within milliseconds.) He added that Veriflow's data collection is configurable, but it usually takes place on an hourly basis, polling as little as a megabyte of data from appliances, so it doesn't slow down performance.

Read more of Conry-Murray's thoughts on Veriflow and network outages. 

Is SDN an iteration or an innovation?

Engineer Greg Ferro, writing in Ethereal Mind, wrote last week that software-defined networking (SDN), in his view, is an iterative -- and not innovative --development. That sparked an opposing response from Mike Fratto, an analyst with Current Analysis Inc., in Sterling, Va.

Ferro got things rolling by writing about the things SDN doesn't supplant or reinvent. It doesn't replace routing, for example, or TCP/IP or switching. Overlay networking, he wrote, is but an iteration of MPLS, and that intelligence still remains at the edge, while forwarding is in the core. While he credited the technology for promoting software as a central element in network architecture, thus fueling visibility and analytics, he said he believes SDN remains enmeshed in a complex sales process that thwarts adoption.

So, does a technology have to be "net new" to be innovative? Not in Fratto's view, who wrote that he believes SDN will play a significant role for enterprises going forward. "I'd say that SDN has become so overloaded that it has lost its meaning," Fratto conceded. "[But unlike Ferro], I think SDN is innovative."

He noted that SDN is more than just "automation and overlay," pointing to developments such as microsegmentation -- limiting access between nodes -- as well as performance-based forwarding in LAN hardware, SD-WAN and the concept of application- or user-driven networking. "It's not that these capabilities didn't exist prior to SDN. It's that these capabilities weren't readily available prior to SDN, and that's the innovative part," Fratto added.

See more of what Ferro and Fratto have to say about SDN.

The state of OpenStack networking in the enterprise

Andrew Lerner, an analyst with Gartner, reassessed OpenStack ahead of an upcoming Gartner publication on the topic. Six years after it was first developed by NASA and Rackspace, OpenStack remains a work in progress, with adoption tabulated in the hundreds, rather than thousands. Vendors such as Red Hat and Mirantis are now offering packaged services; IBM, Cisco and Rackspace, meantime, have their own roster of OpenStack-based managed services.

Lerner said many organizations struggled with scalability up until a year ago, but new approaches are leading to more "clever things" and progress. OpenStack has the advantage of being extensible through APIs and allowing for the addition of other networking features that may or may not be related to each other. "As is often the case with other private cloud deployments, anticipate networking being the 'longest pole in the tent,' with OpenStack as the other infrastructure components -- compute and storage -- are further along the maturity curve," Lerner said.

Explore more of Lerner's thoughts on OpenStack networking.

Next Steps

Are data center outages inevitable?

What's possible with OpenStack networking?

SDN primed for large enterprise expansion

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